Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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March 28 – Full Of Life Within

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.” Matt. 23:27-31

Devotional Thought For The Day

In the record of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus began His ministry of teaching with a strong diatribe against the teaching and lifestyle of the scribes and Pharisees, and just before His crucifixion, at the end of His teaching ministry, Jesus intensifies His condemnation of this kind of hypocrisy – the same hypocrisy practiced even today by those who reject the Gospel and insist upon climbing the ladder of God’s moral law to get themselves to heaven.

He acknowledges the external purity and beauty of these unbelieving legalists – “you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful.” Those ignorant of God’s Word and the Gospel myopically consider this external appearance to be the key criteria of our status with God – and the principle thing with which God is concerned.  But Jesus corrects this with utterly harsh words: “but within you are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”  Though legalistic, pious, unbelievers are described as appearing “outwardly righteous to others,” Jesus indicates the reality: “but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Thus, for Jesus, the Son of God, it is not external appearance that matters, but what is in the heart – and trusting in your keeping of the moral law only fills you with “uncleanness, hypocrisy, and lawlessness.”

We know that those who belong to the cults are described perfectly by Jesus’ Words. However, there are also far too many within the church who teach and practice this same pharisaic, outward, hypocritical “righteousness.” They are so convinced of their “righteousness” that they are completely impervious to the Gospel, and in fact find the true Gospel, the reality of God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness of our sins to be utterly repulsive. Since in their minds they have the superior “appearance of righteousness,” they are convinced that whatever they do against the proponents of the Gospel is serving God and His ways – and this includes exterminating these true prophets of God, if necessary. They even got around to killing Jesus. So, beware of them, and especially of becoming like them. Rather, hear the Lord Jesus calling you to humble repentance, and to the joy and peace of living in His gracious forgiveness and mercy by faith!

One of the dirty tricks these outwardly “righteous” like to play, is paying homage to past prophets. This too is grossly hypocritical – opposing the Word of God out of such great respect for a “past” prophet. God is not fooled by any of this – it is your relationship with the Word of God, Holy Scripture, that matters, and how you treat the servant who faithfully ministers God’s Word today that is critical. The only “righteousness” that avails in the sight of God is His own – as the true apostle of the Lord Christ wrote: “I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” [Phil. 3;8,9] So, “Abraham believed God, and He counted it to him as righteousness.” [Gen. 15:9] May all such “Pharisees” follow Paul’s path, to true repentance and genuine faith. Blessed are you if you are indeed a “son” of Abraham, a child of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. Then your righteousness and cleanliness begins inwardly, and works from the inside out.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, forgive us for all of our hypocrisy – and forbid that we should get stuck in such unbelief, superficiality, and spiteful lawlessness. Deliver us from all of the little tricks we play to appear righteous to others, while rejecting and despising Your Word. Keep us in humble repentance and faith, and always rejoicing in the righteousness You have supplied to us, through faith. Amen.